Flavor of the Week

This review is written by an Asian living in Britain, a point worth mentioning because it may help explain why I found Monica Ali's Brick Lane (Doubleday; 413 pages) as dull as dhal. For those with no personal experience of the book's central milieu — London's Bangladeshi community — it might seem a spicy treat, full of colorful, richly detailed characters and aromatic atmospherics. Indeed most British reviewers have greeted it with effusive praise, many of them endorsing Granta's selection of Ali as one of Britain's 20 best young novelists. But if you've grown up on a diet of Bengali and...

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